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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Sticky windows require lubrication

Gene Austin McClatchy

Q. It is very difficult to raise and lower the sashes in our older windows. I tried WD-40 to make them slide easier but it doesn’t last long. Can you help?

A. Many windows and doors get sticky in hot, humid weather, and especially those made of wood, which tend to absorb moisture and swell.

Lubricating the channels in which the sashes slide in double-hung windows will often ease the problem, but first you should make sure the channels are clean and free of lumpy paint or other deposits that can interfere with easy sliding.

Picking the best lubricant is the next step. WD-40 is fine stuff and good for many purposes, but I prefer a spray-on silicone lubricant for window channels. Wax or soap is sometimes recommended, but I think it can cause a buildup that can make windows even more difficult to operate.

Silicone spray is available at most hardware stores or home centers. With the window closed, spray some in the upper channels, then raise the window and spray the lower channels. Open and close the sash several times to distribute the lubricant evenly.

This lubricant also works well on sticking doors – just spray the mating edges. Wipe off any excess lubricant with a paper towel. There is a good chance you will have to repeat the process periodically if hot, humid weather lasts long.

Fortunately, many sticking windows and doors will improve on their own when the outdoor humidity drops for a while.

Q. The paint on our concrete front porch is peeling and needs repair. I am considering indoor-outdoor carpet or repainting. If I paint, what kind of paint should I use and should I topcoat it with a waterproofing sealer?

A. Indoor-outdoor carpet looks nice for a while, but it can become unattractive in time and can be very difficult to remove. I favor paint, which should hold up well if the surface is properly prepared and the correct paint is used.

If you decide to paint, choose a porch and patio paint suitable for concrete. You can buy these paints in latex, oil or epoxy form at most paint stores and home centers; latex is the easiest to use. You should remove all loose paint and follow other directions on the container for preparing the surface before you start.

No waterproofing sealer is needed for this type of paint, which is designed to hold up well to foot traffic. You might need to touch up or apply another coat in a few years, but the paint is easy to apply with a roller or pad.

Q. I spilled bleach on my green-brown carpet. Is there a dye I could use to restore the color or what other type of cover-up do you suggest?

A. Carpet can be dyed, but I consider it a job for an expert. If you want to try it yourself, visit for information and do-it-yourself dye kits. A small carpet sample is needed to match the color; a kit costs about $100.

It is also possible to patch a carpet, if there is some matching material available; this can sometimes be lifted from carpeting in a closet or other inconspicuous area. Again, a patch of any size is best left to a skilled carpet installer. You should call several carpet companies in your area and see if they can help.

You can, of course, conceal the damaged area with a throw rug.

Questions and comments should be e-mailed to Gene Austin at
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